NEW YORK (Jul. 4)
The Jewish Rights Council is urging Congress to investigate whether the operation of the Affirmative Action program, under guidelines from the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and other government bodies, is leading to quotas and discriminatory hiring and promotion policies in schools, civil service and corporate enterprises that benefit from government contracts.
The Council, which describes itself as “a national organization formed to defend the equality of rights for all persons under our laws.” claimed that the program “has already led to policies in several universities and public school systems which have done harm to the merit system.” At a meeting in the House of Representatives in Washington last week, spokesmen for the group detailed its concerns before an audience that included the entire Congressional delegation from New York City. The meeting was arranged with the assistance of Rep. Benjamin Rosenthal (D. NY).
A statement Issued in behalf of the Council by Profs. Seymour Siegel, president, and Edward M. Gershfield and Fritz A. Rothschild, member of the executive council, expressed the anxiety felt by the Jewish community over the threat of imposed racial and religious considerations in hiring. It said that Affirmative Action, as pursued by HEW “although sincerely motivated, cannot but lead to injustice” because “in favoring one group or individual, one necessarily harms another.”
“A commitment to hire 15 percent of a certain minority as professors, might imply discrimination against other qualified applicants,” the statement said. “As Jews, we remember only too well the tendency to favor white Protestants in admissions to colleges and universities and to tenured positions on university faculties. This unfairness is compounded by the fact that those who are bound to suffer are least responsible for the injustices that have historically been visited upon various minorities in our countries.”
The statement noted that “Jews have traditionally fought for the merit system of hiring and promotion” and warned that “any attempt to tamper with that impartial system is de facto directed against the Jewish community, though it may not be so intended.”